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Household Archaeology

House Hunting Through the Ages

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Mezhirich Ukraine (Diorama display at the American Museum of Natural History)

Mezhirich Ukraine (Diorama display at the American Museum of Natural History)

Wally Gobetz

By and large, when people think about archaeology--that is, when the general public thinks about archaeology--they think we study death. "Bone digger" or "grave digger," whatever people choose to call us, the assumption is that we spend our lives rooting around in other people's bones, studying death.

But that's not true. Archaeology isn't about death-- it's about life. Most of what we study is the mundane, which is, when you think about it, a pretty good word for it. What people ate, what clothing they wore, how they ran their societies, how they raised their children and built their houses--the thousands of permutations human beings have had of living their lives since we became human beings. Even when we're studying human remains, we're studying life.

To make my point, I've collected a bunch of houses, huts to cabins to palaces, from all over the world, that archaeologists have studied over the past hundred years or so:

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